MEARS AND THE GECKO TURN IN TOP-10 FINISH AT GEICO 500
Germain Racing completes all four 2014 restrictor-plate races with average finish of ninth
Talladega, AL (October 19, 2014) - The October Talladega race has long been circled on Germain Racing's calendar. After much anticipation, the weekend finally arrived and Casey Mears looked strong when practice got underway for the GEICO 500, the final restrictor-plate race of the 2014 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season. Aside from racing activities, Mears would participate in a host of events to promote the race, including autograph signings and an event where he presented the Golden Gecko Award to the most creatively decorated motorhome.
Mears was 22nd in the weekend's opening practice, but appeared strong as he charged to the front of the field during the session. When final practice got started, the No. 13 GEICO Chevrolet SS took command and rested in the fifth position on the scoring tower when happy hour concluded late Friday afternoon.
Qualifying was scheduled for Saturday afternoon at 4:40 PM (EDT), leaving the Germain Racing team to endure a long day before being able to claim their spot on the GEICO 500 starting grid. Once it began, Mears and his GEICO Chevy were sporty and when the first round of qualifying was complete, they were second fastest and advanced to the next round. In the second round, Mears was solidly in the top ten before a fellow driver dropped out of the draft leaving the No. 13 GEICO Chevy all alone. An otherwise bizarre qualifying session, which saw many top drivers using a provisional to get in and Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. missing the race altogether, would leave Mears 19th on Sunday's starting grid.
A packed house looked on as the green flag signaled the start of Sunday's GEICO 500. Mears and his No. 13 GEICO Chevrolet SS would begin their journey from the 19th position. After picking up positions in the opening laps, a car in front of him began leaking fluid which then blanketed Mears' windshield, leaving him unable to see clearly as he navigated the draft. He would immediately drop out of line and fall to the rear with the balance of NASCAR's elite who chose to take the safe route of riding at the back of the field until the closing laps. A scheduled green flag pit stop on lap 39 allowed Mears to bring his GEICO Chevy to the attention of his Germain Racing pit crew, who provided him with four fresh Goodyear tires, a full tank of Sunoco racing fuel and a window tear-off that restored his field of vision. He then returned to the racing surface and began a methodic charge to the front that saw him reach the top-five by lap 78, where he would settle in and ride for the next 25 laps.
As the race began to wind down, Mears found himself shuffled back as far as the 21st position with just 20 laps remaining in the event. He and his NASCAR Sprint Cup Series counterparts would find it difficult to maneuver through the field and recapture previously surrendered positions.
In true Talladega fashion, the GEICO 500 would be settled at the hands of two attempts at a green-white-checker finish. The first attempt failed after a crash collected several cars to the rear of Mears and his GEICO Chevy, however a second attempt saw the field complete the full three laps. Mears restarted the race from a challenging 16th position, but jostled his way around the high-banked 2.66-mile superspeedway and managed to collect six spots in the closing two laps to cross the finish line in the 10th position. His full throttle hustle accounts for the team's third top-ten finish of the 2014 season. More significant is the fact that Mears and the GEICO team have successfully completed all four restrictor-plate races of the 2014 season with an average finish of ninth, a notable feat for any team on the Sprint Cup Series circuit.
"It's been an exciting, busy weekend for the obvious reason, so I'm happy we had a solid run for GEICO and all of the associates at the track today," Mears said. "We played it right for the most part, held back when we should have and missed incidents, then we ran hard and the incidents were behind us. The team did a nice job of getting me on and off of pit road and Bootie [Barker, crew chief] made good calls. At the end of the day, we stayed clean and had a good top-10 finish. I'm really proud of the guys back at the shop and the road crew that have worked so hard to ensure the success of our restrictor-plate program." He continued, "I want to thank all of the folks at GEICO for being so committed to our sport and for caring about its health, as well as caring about our fans. The GEICO 500 was well organized and it was fun to see the NASCAR fans embracing all of the GEICO activities and having fun."
With just four races remaining on the schedule, Mears and his GEICO team will now head to the paperclip-shaped facility of Martinsville, the shortest track on the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series schedule.
Casey Mears and the No. 13 GEICO Chevrolet SS will hit the track at Martinsville Speedway for the weekend's opening practice session on Friday, October 24th, at 12:00 PM (EDT). Qualifying will follow at 4:40 PM (EDT).
The Goody's Headache Relief Shot 500 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race is on Sunday, October 26th, and it will be televised live on ESPN beginning at 1:30 PM (EDT). The Motor Racing Network (MRN) will carry the live radio broadcast, along with SiriusXM NASCAR Radio, channel 90.
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- PMI -